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WILLIAM WALLACE

 

William Wallace  (1272 – 1305) 

William Wallace was born in January in 1272 in the Scotish city of Elerslie (near Glasgow), very few before his future great enemy, Edward I, of the Plantagenet house, took the thrown.  

William Wallace with your sword.

He lived his first years in a climate of tensions and disputes that ocurred between the numerous Scotish nobels after King Alexander III´s death.

Between his 14 and 16 years, he lived in Dunipace, with a clergyman who was his uncle, with who he studied the classics in latin. 

At this early age, he was already 2 metre tall, and he was considered almost as a giant according to the average of that times, he was also very strong, and he could speak three languages.

His father´s death, his mother´s exile and the oppresive system with which his people were living because of English pressure made him to abandon the ecclesiastical career.

Then, tired because of the English oppresion and authority, he united with other youths becoming a gang of foragides. He went with them to Loudun Hill, where the English knight Fennwick who had killed his father lived.

They were formed just with 50 men, against the 200 English soldiers; but, even though, more than half of the English ones died, including Fennwick.

William Wallace battled against the English with its famous swords.

Wallace´s men, apart from enjoying their first victory, found a considerable number of weapons and horses. Wallace became a foragide whose head was worthwhile.

His little army refugiated in the Ettrick forest for 5 years. Together with his men, he visited villages taken by the English to know the enemy and he created guerrilla warfares with his troops provoking many losts.

William Wallace sword.

Apart from all that, he could court young Marion Braidfute, who lived in Lannark, a city governed by the sheriff Hazelrig, who, to make Wallace to go to his city and then capture him , he killed Marion´s brother. And he effectivelly arrived, but although he caused a considerable killing among the English soldiers, he had to come back to the forest without arriving to his lover´s home. Then, the sheriff Hazelrig, because he couldn´t capture him, he killed Marion.

Revenge didn´t wait. Wallace and all his men, attacked during the night, and he left alive just the women and the religious. That increased his fame, and many more Scotish united him and the English troops suffered their war of guerrillas widely and along Scotland.

 

Statue of William Wallace with your sword.

King Edward ordered 40.000 soldiers and 300 horse riders to solve the Scotish problem, commanded by the English Gobernor from Scotland, John of Warenne. The first great confrontation took place in Irvine, in July 1297; many Scotish nobels didn´t want to participate because they didn´t want to be under the command of someone who they considered of an inferior rank. Wallace had to go northwards, although he followed the English afterwards when they were thinking that the problem was resolved.

The following great confrontation would be decissive by neccesity: a numerous and perfectly armed army, with many veterans of the wars of Flandes and Wales, against those who, till that moment, had just participate in guerrillas and they were just armed mainly with lances, axes and knives.

Bust of William Wallace

The battle took place in 11th September in 1297, in the bridge of Stirling, that broke with the weigh of the English cavalry, facilitating Wallace´s victory. Although he suffered the lost of his best friend: Sir Andrew Moray. Many other victories followed this one, including the taking of the Castle of Edingburh. And that´s how Scotland was appearing free of English.

Then Wallace saw that there was another work to do: to restore the commercial and diplomatic routes with the other countries, as they were with King Alexandre III.

He was elected as the Guardian of Scotland, tittle that was almost equivalent to the naming of King (the authentic John Baliol, was imprisoned in London; later he was exiled to France, from where he didn´t come back).

Alarmed by the English defeat, Edward I came back from Flandes, where he maintained another war, and he went personally to Scotland with an enormous army that was going on by the north of England, where Wallace had also conquered several cities, and he provoked the Scotish who were there to escape.

Drawing of one of the battles that William Wallace maintained.

Then Wallace used the practique of the burnt territory, in order that the enemy could not find supplies on their way, but this was predicted by the English king, to who the supplies were arriving by boat from Ireland, although they sinked sometimes because of storms.

Apart from this great power, three times bigger than the Scotish, Wallace was betrayed by two of his nobels. In the battle of Falkird, in spite of the good idea of confronting the assalt with the English cavalry by situating the lances firmly fasted on the floor, the Scotish were defeated and the English king offered an important reward for Wallace´s capture.

Apart from the defeat, he had to support the own Scotish nobels´scorn, who named Guardians of Scotland to Robert Bruce and John Comyn, this one, Johnm Baliol´s nephew. 

Draw of William Wallace with your sword.

Once he had lost the ambition of the winner of all the battles, his condition was decissive for the nobels to retire their support. To make things worse, King Edward decree an amnesty for all those who combated for Scotland, excluding Wallace, who was again a foragide. He also named king to John Comyn.

It seems that Wallace was in France, where Felipe IV offered him nobel tittles and the goverment of a territory, but his love for his country made him to come back in 1305. He was there again betrayed. This time by Sir John of Menteith, his friend and partner in battle in the past, who introduced one of his nephews at Wallace´s gang, in order to know everything he was doing.

He was able to take him to the Castle of Carslile, where he was imprisoned. From there, he was taken to London strongly kept and tied to a horse, in a long trip during 17 days.

He was accused of high betrayal, what he denegated, because he had never made and oath to the English King, and he was sentenced to die at the same day.

Statue of William Wallace

The details of his execution are specially turbulent, even thinking in the cannons of that period. He was dragged with two horses along the streets of London and the people were throwing him stones till he arrived to Smithfield, where it was the place to serve his justice.

There he was hanged for a short time, just enough to lost conscience. They took him down, and while he was still alive, they cut his genitals, they opened his stomach and they took his intestines out that were burnt; finally, they cut his head and they put it over a stick at the bridge of London, while his hands and feet were sent to four different parts in England.

In Alberdeen, where they sent his left foot, the rest of his body was buried. This type of execution against betray was introduced in England by the Normas and it was taken in practice till the 18th century and it may had been used frequently. We have to take into account that there is the called Door of the Traitors in the Tower of London.

It is told very much about William Wallace´s sword, which is done in the traditional type to be used with both hands, it is aproximately 66 inches long, being its blade 52 inches long. The quality of its metal suggest its Scotish origin, although some other swords from this period were made in Finland or Germany.

   

Original sword of William Wallace.

The fight for the independence of Scotland continued, in 1314 Roberto "the bruce" took the commands of the rebellion and he combated with the English till he obtained the independence in 1320. Then he was named King Robert I of Scotland. Although he never forgot his betrayal to Wallace in the battle of Falkirk, and at his death bed, he ordered that his heart had to be taken to the crusades looking for his God forgiveness for his past errors.

Edward I died at the begining of the 14th century and it was his son Edward II who gave the independence to Scotland, so required by William Wallace.

The question is that William Wallace, the hero, has passed from History to the myth and legend, and millions of Scotish, and even inhabitants from other countries, wanted to be reflected with the capable diplomatic, the persistent fighter, the brilliant estrategic, the giant warrior (according to the chronicles of that times, he was two metres tall) and specially to the desafiant idea, so attractive and mistified as the independence is, at all senses, to which William dedicated consciously his life, and unconsciously his posterity.

 

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